Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Person of the Year: Shepard Fairey

Time magazine made an easy decision picking president-elect Barack Obama for their 2008 Person of the Year issue. For you, your mom (hopefully), co-workers and friends, there was no question as to who this was going to be. But the iconic image that Time chose for the cover was not another ear-to-ear smiling Obama, but instead an updated version of Shepard Fairey's ubiquitous campaign portrait of the next president.

A couple years ago, Fairey was just the near-legendary darling of the the graffiti and Banksy crowd. His hand-to-hand viral sticker and poster campaigns had helped to bring the graffiti ethos to graphic design . . . and vice versa. Fairey had become the hero of thousands of street artists and pixel worshiping nerds. But even though his imagery were everywhere from movie posters to freeway signs, the last place I expected to see one was on a presidential campaign poster.

In 2007, though, Fairey produced what went on to be the most famous presidential image since "I Like Ike" or Nixon's "V" fingers. Not initially warmed to by the campaign, the red and blue silhouette of a hopeful Barack Obama wormed its way into the iconography of the Obama movement and never left. Pretty soon, the campaign, like Time, had an easy decision to make as well.

Few could discount the recent run Shepard's having, from being a GQ Man of the Year to being mentioned by Rick Stengel, Managing Editor of Time, on Charlie Rose. Next stop for Fairey is, of course, Washington D.C., where he and Yosi Sergant will head up the second installment of the Manifest Hope Gallery. Manifest Hope is a collection of Obama-inspired artwork, last on display in Denver, during the DNC.

My photographs from the Denver DNC and Manifest Hope Gallery

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